Monthly Archives: January 2013

Kumbh Mela festival

The festival of Kumbh

Kumbh Mela is a sacred and mass Hindu pilgrimage. It occurs four times in twelve year at four different places in India.
Naga sadhu taling bath at Ganga, Yanuma and Saraswati rivers

Naga sadhu taling bath at Ganga, Yanuma and Saraswati rivers

  • Allahabad (Prayag) at the confluence of Ganga and Yamuna and Saraswati river.
  • Haridwar (Uttar Pradesh) along Ganga river.
  • Ujjain (Madhya Pradesh) on the bank of kshipra river.
  • Nasik (Maharashtra ) on the bank of Godavari river.
Kumbh mela at Haridwar

Kumbh mela at Haridwar

Millions of pilgrims take bath during Kumbh Mela
This festival occurs four times in a period of twelve years. After every six years Ardh Kumbh Mela is celebrated at Allahabad and Haridwar. And a Maha Kumbh Mela or Purna Kumbh Mela after every twelve years in Allahabad. These festvials are attended by million of peoples. Maha Kumbh Mela of 2001 was attended by 60 million people making it largest gathering in the world.
According to Indian Astrology, Kumbh is celebrated when planet of Brahaspati (Jupiter) moves into the zodiac sign of Kumbh (Aquarius).
At the bank of the Ganges

At the bank of the Ganges

Devotees taking bath at the banks of Ganga (The Ganges)

Why Kumbh is celebrated at Haridwar, Nasik, Prayag and Ujjain?

Thousands of years ago, Gods had lost their strength, and to regain it, they thought of churning the Ksheera sagara (ocean of milk) for amrit (nectar of immortality), for this they made an agreement with the demons to equally share the amrit. But, when the Kumbha (pot) containing amrit appeared, a fight ensued. This fight continued for twelve days and twelve nights (equivalent to twelve human years). It is believed that during the battle, Garuda(Vehicle of Vishnu) flew away with the kumbh (pot), and the drops of amrit fell at four different places on earth, Prayag, Haridwar, Ujjain, Nasik, so this festival (mela) is celebrated at these places.
Millions of people attend the festival on a single day. The major event is taking ritual bath at the bank of river, important bathing dates are dependent on stellar constellations, other activities includes, religious discussions, devotional singing, mass feeding of holy man, women and poors. On 14 january 2007, the auspicious occasion of makar sankranti over 5 million people participated. Maha Kumbh or Purna Mela is sacred of all pilgrimage. Next festival is occuring in Allahabad in 2013 (January).

Kumbh mela at Prayag (Allahabad)

Kumbh mela at Allahabad

Kumbh mela at Allahabad

 

Haridwar in the night

 

Haridwar: A view of river Ganges at night
Krishna and Arjuna - Nar and Narayan

51 facts – Mahabharata

 Mahabharata – facts

In the epic Mahabharata, there are numerous facts which fascinates us. This is also known as pancham veda or fifth veda. Few people know that the entire epic was narrated as a flashback at the Sarpa Yagna being conducted by Janmejaya, the son of Parikshit (Abhimanyu’s son). There are interesting stories which narrate why the Sarpa Yagna had to be conducted, and who were all the people acting as catalysts for the Yagna.

Following are the 51 facts, which will surely entertain you.

Read 51 facts on the Ramayana

1. Kauravas had one sister. Her name was Dushala. She was later married to Jayadratha, who was killed by Arjuna to revenge the death of his son, Abhimanyu.

2. Abhimanyu’s wife was Uttara. His son Parikshit later on became the king.

3. Satyawati smelled like a fish. Her name was Matsyagandha. By the boon of sage Parashar, she smelled like a flower. She was also a mother of Sage Vyasa. Satyavati was the daughter of a cursed apsara named Adrika.

4. Drona was born in a vessel. He was sage Bhardwaj’s son.

5. Jarasandh was born in two halves. These two halves were fused by a rakshasi Jara, hence his name Jarasandh. Jarasandh was killed by Bheema.

Jarasandh Vadha - Bheema in Mahabharat

Jarasandh Vadha – Bheema in Mahabharat

6. Arjuna defeated the kauravas after the agyaatvaas, which included Drona, Karna and Bhishma. Uttar was his charioteer.

7.  By a boon of Gandhari, Duryodhana’s body became impregnable, save for his thighs, where, he, on advice of Shri Krishna, wore a loin cloth.

8. Bhima could only kill Duryodhana because of stroke of the genius, Shri Krishna. See this link for details. 

9. Shri Krishna did  not fight the Mahabharata war. His army Narayani vahini, was on Kaurava’s side. Duryodhan and Arjun both went to Dwarka to meet Lord Krishna to seek his support for the war. Duryodhan was first to reach Dwarka. Satyaki informed that Krishna was asleep. Both Arjun and Duryodhan entered Krishna’s room. Duryodhan who entered the room first, sat on Krishna’s bed besides his head. Arjun went to the foot of the bed and stood there with his hands folded. When Krishna woke up he saw Arjun first. But Duryodhan said that since he came first if was only fair for Krishna to support the Kauravas. However, Krishna smiled and said that since he saw Arjun first so it would only be fair if he supported both the sides. So, on one hand was his famous Narayani army and on the other hand was he alone without any weapon. Naive Duryodhana thought that Shri Krishna would not be of use and he decided to have the Narayani Army.

10. Sahadeva (the youngest Pandava) was an excellent astrologer. He knew everything about the future. He knew that a war was going to occur, but he kept silent because he was under a curse that if he revealed anything to anybody he would die. There is also a story of him being a great astrologer. Pandu (Father of Pandavas) wished his sons must eat his flesh post death so that all the knowledge may transfer to them which he had collected after so many years. Only Sahadeva ate a piece; the moment he ate, he was able to see future but stopped by God.

Reading suggestion: Unknown facts from Mahabharata (1)

11. Draupadi kept her hair untied after the cheerharan. She vowed that she will tie her hair with Dushashana’s blood. Bheem did the needful.

12. Dhritrashtra crushed the iron statue of Bheema with bare hands. Duryodhana used to practice with the replica. Shri Krishna knew that he would like to kill Bheem, so he switched their places.

13. Pandavas hid their weapons on Sami tree during the agyaatvaas.

14. Ved Vyasa was the father of Dhritrashtra, Pandu and Vidura.

15. Bhishma’s real name was Devvrata. This is because of the vow he took so that his father can marry Satyavati, he was called Bhishma.

16. Arjuna was really a eunuch during the agyaatvaas. He was known as Brihannala. Thanks to a curse from Urvashi. In Indralok, Arjun was propositioned by Urvashi, but he used to address her as ‘mother’ as she had was married to his ancestor, Pururva. Annoyed with Arjun’s rejection, Urvashi cursed him to become a eunuch.

When lord Indra came to know about the curse, he told Arjun that this curse is going to serve as a boon during the one year stay in hiding and after spending that period, he would regain his masculinity. This proved to be true  in Agyaatvaas. After spending twelve years in forest, Pandavas spent the 13th year of exile in cognito, in the court of King Virat.  Arjuna used his curse and lived as a eunuch named Brihannala and remain undetected as required by the condition of anonymity.

17. Shri Krishna forgave Shishupala hundred times before killing him.

18. Karna’s teacher was Parshurama.

Parshurama sleeping in Karna's lap

Parshurama sleeping in Karna’s lap

19. Babhruvahana killed Arjuna, his father. Arjuna’s life was restored with the help of a gem, given by Uloopi.

Uloopi reviving Arjuna after Babhruvahana defeated and killed him

Uloopi reviving Arjuna after Babhruvahana defeated and killed him

20. Subhadra, Chitrangada and Uloopi were wives of Arjuna. Subhadra was the sister of Shri Krishna.

Reading suggestion: Unknown facts from Mahabharata about Karna

21. Karna and Bhishma never fought together. Because Bhishma treated Karna very lowly.

22. Ghatotkacha was killed by Karna with ekaghni.

23. Karna was born with Kavach and Kundala.

Karna born with Kavach and Kundal

Karna born with Kavach and Kundal

24. Draupadi was the daughter of King Drupada. Drupada was a friend of Drona. Panadavas defeated and imprisoned Drupada.

25. Drupada desired a son who could kill Drona who had humiliated him in battle and taken half his kingdom. Dhristdyumna killed Drona in Mahabharata war.

26. Ashwaththama killed Dhristdyumna, Shikhandi and sons of Pandavas with help of Kritvarma and Kripacharya on the last night of Mahabharata war.

27. Shri Krishna cursed Ashwaththama  to be alive because of his act of cowardice.

28. Of the 100 brothers of kaurava, only Yuyutsu survived the Mahabharata war.

29. Yuyutsu had fought from Pandavas side.

30. Bheema killed all 99 brother of Kauravas.

Reading suggestion: Unknown facts from Mahabharata(3)

31. Bhishma himself told Yudhishthir that he can be defeated by a woman. Then Shikhandi came to rescue of Pandavas.

 

Bhishma Pitamah - Mahabharat - Indian mythology story

Bhishma pitamah – on bed of arrows

 

32. Drona killed Drupada.

33. Shalya was killed by Yudhishthir.

34. Shalya wanted to fight the war from Panadavas side, but Duryodhana tricked him to join the war from Kauravas. He finally became the commander, but popularly known as the sarathi of Karna.

35. Due to a boon given by Lord Shiva, Jayadratha was able to keep Pandavas away for a day. This became the reason of Abhimanyu’s demise.

36. Mahabharat war lasted for 18 days.

37. Pandavas rule was followed by their grandson, Parikshit. Pandavas son were killed by Ashwaththama during the Mahabharat war.

38. Abhimanyu learnt the trick of entering Chakravyuha, in his mother, Subhadra’s womb. Arjuna realised that she was asleep. So he did not explain the method of coming out from Chakravyuha, a skill which Abhimanyu could not learn.

39. Bhim killed Hidimb after escaping from Lakshagriha. He later married his sister, Hidimba.

40. Bhim also killed Vakasur, who ate large amount of grains and buffaloes everyday.

Reading suggestion: Unknown facts from Mahabharata (4)

41. Vidura helped Pandavas to escape from Lakshagriha.

42.  Barbari  was the grandson of Bhim. Krishna asked for his head as a gurudakshina, as it was feared that Pandavas would not be able to fulfill their vows, if he fought the Mahabharata war.

43. The Mahabharata has eighteen parvas or chapters.

44. Early life and Draupadi swayambar is written in Adi Parva.

Arjuna and Draupadi in Mahabharat

Arjuna and Draupadi in Mahabharat

45. The thirteenth parva of Mahabharat is Anushashana parva, where Bhishma tells Yushishthir how to conduct governance.

46. Jarasandha was killed in the same way he born, in two halves. He was killed by Bhima.

47. Kichak, in the Hindu epic Mahabharata, was the brother of queen Sudeshna of King Virata, the king of Matsya. Kichak was slain by Bhima during one year of incognito exile spent by Pandavas at the court of king Virata. King Virata was killed by Drona during the great war.

Kichak and Draupadi in Mahabharat

Kichak and Draupadi in Mahabharat

48.  Killing of Kichak made Duryodhana to think that Pandavas were hiding at King Virata’s place. After all, there were very few people, who were capable of killing Kichak, Bhima was one of them.

49. After Shri Krishna’s death, Pandavas too lost their interest in life. They started their journey to heaven. All Pandavas have lost their lives during the journey. Only Yudhisthir and a dog made it to heaven. That dog was Dharmaraj.

50. Yudhisthira found his brothers in heaven.  A surprising presence there was that of Duryodhana. Narada explained to Yudhisthira that Duryodhana never showed cowardice, he had been a just and good king, he died a brave’s death that too in the holy place. That’s why he is in heaven. Surprising indeed.

51. The Mahabharat war happened because of a lady. It is believed that Draupadi addressed sons of Dhritrashtra as sons of blind. This made Duryodhana to become a staunch enemy of Pandavas.

Reading suggestion:  Test your knowledge on Mahabharat51 facts – The Ramayana

Books

An excellent book by none other than Anant Pai from Amar Chitra Katha. Third one is dedicated to the battle of Kurukshetra.

The guru of curse – Sage Durvasa(2)

Following are the incidents where Durvasa has been involved with various people which resulted in curse. This is in continuation from this article.

 Curse on Durvasa by sage Orga

 Once Durvasa saw a Gandharva playfully bathing in a river with his wife . The sage was influenced by the scene and he desired to marry to enjoy conjugal life . Soon , he married Kandali , the daughter of sage Orva . However Kandali was arrogant , obstinate , rude and impolite . Durvasa could not bear her nasty behaviour for long and he reduced her to ashes by his curse . Just then the sage Orva arrived there and was very sad for the death of his daughter . At once , he became angry and cursed Durvasa  —  ” One day you will be insulted by the entire world for your anger and pride ”

Curse on Ambarish

This was the turning point in the life of Sage Durvasa . Durvasa plucked a hair and directed to kill Ambarish. Lord Vishnu ‘ s came to help his devotee. He used  Sudarshana Chakra , which, after killing the demon , started to chase Durvasa . The sage sought protection from Brahma who expressed his helplessness . When approached , Shiva also cited helplessness and directed the sage to seek Vishnu for protection . However Vishnu said , ” let us all approach Ambarisha for relief ” .

Durvasa curse to Ambarish

Seeing the dangerous state of the sage , Ambarisha said , ” Oh ! Sudarshana Chakra ! If I am righteous and if I am obedient to the pious people , may the sage Durvasa be saved ” . Then Sudarshana Chakra was pacified and it vanished . Tha anger and pride of Durvasa was humbled . The sage felt glad that he was cleansed of his evil trait .

Sudarshan Chakra chasing Durvasa

Curse on Shri Krishna

Durvasa did not spare Krishna also from his wrath. One day, Durvasa was eating kheer (a sweet dish made of rice and milk). Krishna was present. Durvasa ordered Krishna to apply the left over kheer on his body. Krishna applied it on the full body but did not apply on his feet. Durvasa got angry at this and cursed Krishna that since he did not obey his orders and did not apply the kheer on legs, his legs will not remain impenetrable and
unbroken. Combined with this curse and Gandhari’s, as she had cursed Krishna to die an ordinary death. She thought that Krishna was the root cause of death of her sons.

Mahabharata – A story of revenges (Indian Mythology)

“Revenge is a dish best served cold” 

How true this line is in context of Mahabharata.

It is believed that Mahabharata is a symbol of victory of truth over lies, but here are few incidents related to revenge. Based on these we can say that this epic from Indian mythology contains lots of hatred as well. We can open a whole debate of what Mahabharat is all about.  And this does not take away the magic of this epic. Read the following Indian stories from Mahabharata. You will agree that revenge is indeed a strong feeling in Mahabharata.

Revenge of Amba

Amba got her revenge when she born as Shikhandi. She became the reason for killing of Bhishma. Bhishma abducted three sisters, Amba, Ambika and Ambalika for his brothers, but Amba had to kill herself because she was rejected by her lover. This was because Bhishma abducted her. Before dying, she vowed that she will eventually will be a reason for downfall of Bhishma. In her next life, she was born as Shikhandi. Shikhandi fought the war of Mahabharat from Pandavas side.  Arjuna, using Shikhandi as shield, killed Bhishma. Bhishma could not fought back because he knew that Shikhandi was a lady in her past life. Thus, Amba became a reaosn for killing of Bhishma.

Indian mythology story from Mahabharat

Bhishma on his death bed

 

Drona and Drupada

King Drupada got his revenge when Dhristadyumna, his son killed Drona in the battle of Mahabharat. Drona and Drupada were childhood friends and Drupada later became a king. Drona reached out to him for financial help but Drupada did not treat him properly. Drona vowed to took revenge and later Pandavas presented him before Drona as a prisoner. Drupada vowed that he would beget a son who would kill Drona.  Dhristadyumna was born as his son who killed Drona. Draupadi, the wife of pandavas, was the daughter of Drpada and sister of Dhristadyumna.

Revenge of Draupadi – death of Dushashana

Dushashana insulted Draupadi and dragged her by her hair and paid heavily with his life. Draupadi vowed that she would tie her hair only when they are covered with Dushashana’s blood taken out from his heart. Later Bheem, her husband killed Dushashana and broght the blood from his heart to Draupadi.

Satisfied, Draupadi tied her hair after they were immersed in Dushashana’s blood, when Bhima killed him and brought blood from his heart in the mahabharata war.

Draupadi cheerharan

Draupadi cheerharan

Revenge of Bhima and death of Duryodhana

Duryodhana also insulted Draupadi and asked her to sit on his thighs. Bheem vowed to break his thigh. In Mahabharata war, he did the same. This was against the rules of war, and Balram objected, but nevertheless, Krishna intervened.  Thus, Bhima was able to took his revenge. There is also an interesting story of how Duryodhana’s thigh was vulnerable.  Rest of his body was strong as a rock and impenetrable.

Revenge of Bheem – death of Kichak

When Panadavas were living in hiding during their Agyaatvaas, Kichak was troubling Draupadi. He was making undue advances towards her. One day, Draupadi invited him to a clandestine place. Bhima was waiting for him.  Bhima killed the mighty Kichak. Kauravas realized that Pandavas may be hiding there only since there were only few people who could overpower Kichak. Bheem was one of them.

This aspect of mahabharat fascinates me so much. Every small story is related to another story.  For example, death of Kichak was a significant event. This led to Kauravas realizing where Pandavas are hiding.

kichak-draupadi-mahabharat-indian-mythology-story

Kichak and Draupadi in Mahabharat

Hand painted posters of hindi movies – Sholay and Mughal e Azam

Hand made posters of Mughal-e-Azam and Sholay (Hindi Movies)

Those who have started seeing movies couple of decades ago or before, will surely relate to the film posters, which were painted by artists. In the hindi movie Mera Naam joker, Raj Kapoor’s heroine played Meenu Master, whose earnings came from painting hoardings. Here are some of them which will surely evoke memories of hindi movies.

Sholay poster

The scene where Veeru is avenging his friend’s death. He was stopped by Thakur.

some more posters from Sholay – again the actors are not recognizable.

Can you identify the actors apart from Amjad Khan? I cannot.

This one is more close to reality. A good piece of art.

Strangely, Jaya bhaduri is available on this poster, a rarity.

another one far from reality

Last but not the least, there is a restaurant in hyderabad made in the name of Sholay.

Sholay restaurant in hyderabad – The famous song yeh dosti is drawn. It is said that it took in excess of 20 days to shoot this song.

Posters of Mughal-e-Azam

K Asif made the one of all time great hindi movie Mughal e Azam. This story revolved around Prithiraj Chauhan, Madhubala and Dilip Kumar. Lot of still remember the dialogues of this movie. The movie started with Main Hindustan hoon.

K Asif’s epic. Can you identify the actors straightaway?

These expressions were never witnessed in the original film. Thanks to the imagination of the artist, we are seeing the raudra roopa of Salim and Anarkali.

 

 

Dilip Kumar and Madhubala immortalized love on celluloid

 

similar image. I doubt if this shot was available in the film

 

Conflict of father and son – was royally put on the screen.

 

The hero looks more like Amjad Khan. Madhubala and Prithvi looked OK though.

hope above pics have evoked good memories.

Orange festival - Tajmahal

Orange festival

Orange Festival across the world

This is a festival of fun and frolic is celebrated in Europe and United states among other places. Such as Netherlands, Dunedin and Tamenglong. In North america, this is known as Orange Blossom festival and celebrated in the month of April. These can be compared to the Indian festival Holi.

France – Citrusov

The most beautiful is probably the one which French celebrate. Beautiful, eye catching sculptures are created using Oranges. Even Taj mahal was created from Oranges. This festival Citrusov is held in south of France, where this is celebrated. They grow citrus here in this part of the country. French are very creative with the sculptures and the pictures show this. This is contrary of the popularity that the citrus festival is celebrated by Dutch.

Orange festival - Tajmahal

Orange festival – Tajmahal

There is no Orange festival celebrated by Dutch. Rather, they celebrate Queens day, 30 April. This is a good reason for many people to bring out their orange outfits, and it is very much an outdoor event.

Italy

In Italy in the city of Ivrea, battle of oranges is celebrated when people throw oranges on each other. The core celebration is based on a locally famous Battle of the Oranges that involves some thousands of towns people, divided into nine combat teams, who throw oranges at each other – with considerable violence – during the traditional carnival days. These are Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. The legend is that it commemorates the city’s defiance against the city’s tyrant.

Battle of Oranges

Battle of Oranges

Orange Warsaw Festival is a Polish annual music festival.

 United States

Various places observe this festival in United States. e.g. in Dunedin.

The National Orange Show Festival is an annual festival held in San Bernardino County, California for hundred years. A fun event for most San Bernardino residents, there remains a legend regarding the opening of the show — it always marks rain for the usually dry Southern California residents.